Media and journalism are tools to mobilize civil society support
One of the key challenges in reaching the objectives of the ACDEG refers to the uneven level of knowledge, acceptance and implementation of the Charter in the African countries.
Journalist training and design of media strategies are two of the main means to remedy this challenge as the media in many societies remain the major source of information and has the potential to works as a platform of democratic participation and dialogue for citizens. Through its agenda setting and framing capabilities, the media is able to raise key issues in society.
From low media awareness to high-quality reports
Reportage on the ACDEG has been very low or non-existing in the media landscape in Africa. Mapping reports on the coverage of the AU in selected countries show that there is limited knowledge and awareness among journalists on the organs, mechanisms, protocols on the AU. Hence there is little reportage on the ACDEG and its relevance to democracy and good governance on the African continent.
The Civil Society Organisations collaborating in the project “Mobilising Civil Society Support for Implementation of the African Governance Architecture” include:
West African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (WACSOF), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF), SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC-CNGO) and Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI).
With extensive journalist training, the project aims at mobilizing broad public support for the implementation of the ACDEG, empowering citizens to understand their rights enshrined in the Charter and inspiring citizens and civil society to take further action. Thus, the low awareness and limited commitment to the implementation of the Charter on the continent can be improved by sustained media campaigns, coverage and production of high-quality reports on the Charter.
Journalist training in Addis Ababa
The Africa We Want Project is doing journalist training activities at three levels: National, regional and continental. The project aims at training 450 journalist on national and regional level and 30 journalists at continental level – and via this, to see the frequency of media reporting on ACDEG increased in the 8 focus countries: Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In July 2019, a step was taken in this direction when the project held a journalist training in Addis Ababa. The aim of the training was to raise awareness among journalists on the organs, protocols and mechanisms of the Africa Union, especially the ACDEG. A total of 15 journalists from radio, TV and newspapers across Africa attended the training.
The aim of this journalist training was also to foster close links between The Africa We Want Project and the journalists trained. The Africa We Want Project will continuously provide journalists with new information - especially from press releases and Citizen Reports reporting on the level of implementation of ACDEG in the 8 focus countries – for the journalists to be able to continue to provide coverage of ACEDG-related issues.
The action plans developed from the journalist training included:
- Participants focusing on critical and contextual issues in their home countries and connecting them to ACDEG in raising awareness on the implementation and domestication of the Charter.
- Dedicating a page or slot on their media programming to issues on AU, AGA and the ACDEG.
- Initiating an advocacy aimed at getting the AU to streamline and improve its media engagement including producing a working media engagement framework.
- Creating a continental media/journalist network that would focus on highlighting issues on the AU, AGA and the ACDEG.
Watch Njenje Chizu’s video reportage from the training: